Saturday, 13 August 2011
62 Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder - Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder
Purchased : May 1987
Tracks : Why Must The Show Go On / In Transit / Good-Bye Bad Times / Brand New Love / Valerie / Now / Together In Electric Dreams / Be My Lover Now / Shake It Up
This was the first of many LPs over the next few years purchased ( usually in a sale ) from Woolworth's in Ashton-under-Lyne. I was buying this because I loved two of the singles despite the LP getting pilloried in Record Mirror and not doing much in the charts ( number 52 in August 1985 ).
The LP was recorded at Virgin's suggestion after the better-than-expected success of the pair's one-off single "Together In Electric Dreams" which made number three despite the association with the dud film Electric Dreams. Moroder was musical director and Oakey was brought in at the main director Steve Barron's suggestion after working on the "Don't You Want Me" video. Although the Record Mirror review was over-harsh it has to be said that the ad hoc conception and hasty construction of the LP does show. Oakey's lyrics are not his best and Moroder doesn't play much on the album. most of the keyboard and synthesiser work coming from Arthur Barrow.
For the first side the drum machine keeps going throughout so there's limited variation. "Why Must The Show Go On ? " is a decent opener with Oakey posing a number of questions to his ex-lover about their failed relationship. The sledgehammer beat dominates the sound with synths providing both rhythm and melody. There are also dramatic two-note exclamations strangely reminiscent of The Moody Blues' s Question . It segues straight into the self-explanatory and inconsequential instrumental "In Transit".
This gives way to the classic-Moroder main riff of "Good-Bye Bad Times" which I loved as a single but is slightly diminished by its inclusion among similar but lesser songs here. Lyrically it is something of a follow up to the opening track with Oakey celebrating his freedom. I don't normally like "happy" songs but the joy here is infectious and that main synth riff is a killer.
"Brand New Love" sees Oakey extolling the virtues of finding someone new and this is beginning to sound like a concept album. Unfortunately it's also sounding a bit monotonous and dated and the entrance of some squally electric guitar on the middle eight adds some welcome variety.
"Valerie" ( no relation to the Steve Winwood or Zutons tracks ) is an absolute dog of a song and Moroder and Barrow seem to have taken the opportunity to re-visit some seventies preset sounds so there are vague echoes of Pop Corn and Magic Fly going on behind Oakey's terrible lyrics and half-hearted vocal. "Misery, Misery Misery, that's all I can see" he opines and you hope that's not a portent for Side Two.
"Now" is another call to universal consciousness, similar to The Sign from Hysteria in its fuzzy lyric and lack of any chorus. Musically it's fairly similar to Donna Summer's Love's Unkind without the killer riff. There is some added variety in the rumbling fretless bass ( though no bassist is credited on the sleeve ) and the I.O.U. treated vocal noises in the middle eight. It's still pretty boring though.
Relief is at hand with the appearance of "Together In Electric Dreams" a classic synth pop single which works despite Oakey's very obvious struggle to hit the notes in the chorus. Elizabeth Daily's backing vocals provide added warmth to the simple tale of parted lovers and Richie Zito's guitar , while fairly obviously added for airplay reasons adds some colour to the track. It seems all the more pertinent in the era of Facebook relationships.
Daily also plays a prominent role in "Be My Lover Now" the third single whose commercial failure effectively brought the partnership to an end. Musically it's suspiciously similar to New Order's Confusion with the same over-busy synth sound. Oakey's less than gallant observations - "you'll never be a picture " are amusing but again the song could have done with a stronger chorus.
The album closes with "Shake It Up" which sounds like a bit of a jape concocted in 5 minutes with Oakey intoning as many Kool and the Gang -style disco slogans as he can think of over what sounds like a left over backing track from Moroder's Flashdance soundtrack. Oakey's voice meshes well with Daily and Joe Esposito and the sense of fun is infectious but you wouldn't want to hear it too often.
So that was it. Oakey and Moroder resumed their day jobs although in each case there was only one more big hit to come, and this album has sunk into obscurity. It's certainly dated but it's still worth a listen.